HSBC recently commissioned Toluna to undertake an online survey across 10 different jurisdictions to ascertain how much time adults were spending researching property.
The locations covered were: United Arab Emirates; United States of America; Taiwan; Malaysia; Mexico; Singapore; UK; Australia; Canada; and France
According to HSBC’s research, which surveyed 11,932 adults over 21 years of age, there is a “culture of property obsession” sweeping the globe, with people spending an average of 3.5 hours every week ‘window shopping’ for homes, reading property magazines and trawling online listings, even when they were not in the market for a new house.
How Australia fares
In total, Australian adults spend a total of 2.51 hours a week viewing property, the data showed.
Australians, therefore, spend twice as much time researching property than exercising at the gym (1.08 hours) or speaking to their parents (0.88 hours).
Meanwhile, 23 per cent of Australian home owners reported that they check the value of their property every three months.
According to HSBC, the research demonstrates that the cooling housing market, which has largely impacted major cities, including Melbourne and Sydney markets, has done “little to dent the property fixation” among some Australians.
However, when compared to other markets, Australians spend less time, on average, researching homes than other jurisdictions.
Of the nine jurisdictions that HSBC gathered data on in relation to total aggregate time spent reading or researching about property (United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Taiwan, Mexico, Singapore, UK, Australia, Canada and France), Australia came in seventh place.
The UAE is reportedly the world’s “most property-obsessed” location, according to the data, with adults there clocking an average of 6.6 hours of property research per week.
This was followed by those in the USA (4.95 hours a week), Taiwan (4.54 hours a week), Mexico (3.56 hours), Singapore (3.29 hours) and the UK (2.65 hours).
Only adults living in France and Canada spent less time than those in Australia researching property, the research found, spending 2.08 hours and 1.74 hours researching, respectively.
HSBC’s head of mortgages, Alice Del Vecchio, said that low interest rates and declining property prices were “encouraging factors for many Australians” looking to enter the property market.
“Shopping for homes, reading property magazines and trawling online listings” were recorded as common forms of property research – even among adults who were not in the market for a new house.
Ms Del Vecchio added: “An industry of property magazines, TV programs and websites is making it harder than ever to have realistic expectations about what you can afford – with many Australians putting off important life stages, like having children, in the quest to afford the perfect property.”
Extreme house hunters
Overall, the report found that 6 per cent of respondents were “extreme house hunters”, as they spent more than seven hours a week reading about or researching property.
Most extreme house hunters across the globe said they felt that researching properties for hours each week is beneficial, with 74 per cent reporting they feel “relaxed” about buying a property and 79 per cent feeling “in control” as home owners.
Meanwhile, 49 per cent of this cohort admitted to checking the value of their home monthly.
The survey also indicated that extreme house hunters were “more likely to delay important life stages” in order to save for the “perfect home”, with 19 per cent holding off on having children to acquire property – twice the global average.
Despite the amount of prospective home owners obsessing over “finding the perfect property”, 38 per cent reported that their decision to purchase property was “often impulsive” and “based purely on their first impressions”, HSBC revealed.
According to Ms Del Vecchio, purchasing property is often the “most significant purchase Aussies make”, but some home buyers are “taking their passion for the perfect home to the extreme”.
She concluded: “It’s essential to begin this buying process by having an open discussion with your partner, family or financial adviser to discuss what you can afford and what compromises you might have to make.”
[Related: Fixed mortgage rate cuts continue]
Ezekiel is a journalist on the mortgages, property investment and wellness titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, he was a freelance journalist for Vice Australia, Pulse Radio and the Sydney-based travel publication Global Hobo, among others.
Ezekiel studies a double Bachelor of Communications and International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.